Ten Ways To Raise a Secularist

Webster’s defines secularism as “indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations.” Judging by the expressions on the faces of young people during worship in many churches, we are doing quite well at raising a generation of robust secularists. To help parents along in this task, here are ten suggestions:

1) Attend a church where God rests lightly upon the worshippers. If the church does not know the difference between worship and entertainment, then this is sure to happen, and you should make such a church your spiritual home. Make sure that the programs (and there should be many of these) and ministries mostly emphasise fun as the supreme good. After Sunday School, ask your children, “Did you have fun?” Make sure the level of fun-making becomes more sophisticated as the children get older. During church, shrug off any efforts by the pastors to involve you in reflection, repentance, humility or adoration. Let your children see your impatience and restlessness with that kind of thing. If it continues, speak to the leadership and inform them of the wrong direction they are going with worship.

2) Treat the Lord’s Day as a tiresome chore. Arrive at church, proceed with the formalities, and then get home for the good stuff: lunch, computer games, and ideally, some TV or movies. Don’t mention the sermon at home, and definitely avoid any display of emotion in speaking of how the revelation of God affected you.

3) Fill the home, and the car, and the schedule with noise. That is, fill your children’s lives with continual distraction: cartoons, lightweight sitcoms and movies, sports, computer games and the like. Keep everyone entertained from moment to moment, and keep meditation, silence and reflection far from your home.

4) Let your child’s peers be his cultural mentors. Let other children define for him what is to be prized, valued, loved and treasured. Do this by making sure the bulk of his time is not spent with you, and when it is, don’t bother to tell him what you think is true and good and beautiful. When he appears to be taking on the sullen, sceptical, and cynical attitude of his peers, you know you’re making progress.

5) Fill his mind and his life with pop culture: pop music, movies, and TV. Let him be shaped by songs that trivialise the human condition, stories that evoke good feelings but forbid reflection, and generally art that the child enjoys without having to to reflect, learn or struggle to understand. Make sure his whimsical feelings direct and form his tastes, and don’t ever, ever, force him to listen to serious music, learn an instrument, read good poetry and literature or go to an art gallery. Remember, you want to keep central to him his love of himself; therefore, anything that challenges him to enter into another person’s world is bad. If he doesn’t like something, let him know that it is bad, and if he likes it, it is good.

6) Don’t teach him to compare and criticise things for their goodness, truth or beauty. If he develops any ability in this area, he will be developing the tools for worship, and that’s not what you want. Ideally, find some nicely mixed-up forms – pop music posing as worship, juvenile poems posing as worship, cartoons and movies posing as Christian, and kitsch religious artwork. Once worship and self-gratifying entertainment are mixed up, he’ll never be able to pull them apart, and will default to entertainment.

7) Celebrate the idols of our culture: sports, cars, technology, toys, brand-name clothes, great meals, and popular entertainments. Talk about these with enthusiasm and excitement, spend your money on them liberally, and let your children see that here is where your soul takes repose and finds delight. Rejoice together in your material acquisitions, reserve your highest words of praise for sports stars, and drool over catalogues, car shows and coming attractions. Involve your children in a pursuit of these things from their earliest years, so that they know that these are the things that truly matter. Set it up so the highlight of the week is ‘movie night’, speak of it with anticipation, visibly show your delight when it comes, and surround it with all kinds of comfort ceremonies.

8) Keep his eyes glued to a screen of sorts: phone, iPad, computer, TV – it doesn’t matter what kind. This will keep him away from seeing the works of God’s hands, particularly the sky or the intricacy of growing and living things. Ideally, don’t travel, but if you must, make sure that your car has a TV, the destination has satellite TV, and that he brings his screen with him.

9) Let him be careless about words and language. Clear ideas require clear thought, which requires precise language. You don’t want this; you want your child to live in a vague, blurry world of contradictory notions and ideas. Vocabulary and diction are some of the techne of worship, so make sure he uses incoherent grammar, rejects clear definition, prefers slang, and never learns to write his thoughts out coherently.

10) Avoid all forms of manners, etiquette or everyday beauty in the home. These kinds of things teach him to think of appropriateness, order and decency (which belong to worship), to say nothing of the fact that they elevate his existence from the merely physical and material. Let informality seem natural and ‘real’, and let all custom, ritual and form seem like hypocrisy and phoniness. In fact, tell him it is so.

Do this consistently for around, say, twenty years, and I can nearly guarantee you that by that time, your children will be thorough-going secularists. Best of all, they’ll have been with you in church all that time. You can say that they were raised in a Christian home, and their irreligious ways are their own fault.


5 Responses to “Ten Ways To Raise a Secularist”

  1. Wolf Cilliers Says:


    Look for a church where the leadership (and members) do not realize that they have a most wonderful asset – the kids – which was entrusted in their hands and where they do not earnestly say to each other “Guys, listen – here is a very precious asset. How are we going to reach them and thoroughly disciple them so that they could have a real relationship with God? How can we and their parents have great programs to achieve this? Some parents even struggle – and how can we really help them? How can we help the parents with their responsibility to raise these kids? We should use at least one quarter of our budget for the youth ministry”.

    Look for a church where the church leaders are satisfied with a superficial once-a-week Sunday school hour.

    Look for a church where the leaders are not truly caring and not reaching out to those kids who disappear after they became members of the church it is the kid’s choice to leave and so would not go and look for those lost young sheep – and therefore the kids would never feel true Christian love which makes a effort, and never be able to realize “Hey these leaders are worried about me, they actually care for me”

    Look for a church where the leaders and members do not care enough to confront (in a loving and truly concerned way), and even discipline members.

    Look for a church which don’t have strong missions and evangelistic programs born out of God’s love and His word motivating them – and so the church kids would not know what it to obey and care for the lost and also have no role models taking them with on this ministry.

    Look for a church which doesn’t really know what they believe and why.

    Look for a church which is willing to compromise on clear biblical teaching and sound doctrine and which is rather quickly to say: Doctrine divides” and don’t know how to debate in a biblical way.

    Look for a church who is not realizing the changes and often very subtle and dangerous temptations and attacks upon them in the world – and so wouldn’t make an effort to understand and seek for ways to assist the youth – and only hoping that the parents would address the issues and problems.

    Look for a church which (even sub-consciously or actually unknowingly) operates cell or small groups as a way to actually try to stop the outflow of members through the back door rather than bringing in the lost in a spirit of love through the front door.

    Look for a church which is blind enough to realize that their kids are the ones who should in twenty years time be strongly motivated to reach out to and care for he elderly (thus the present church leaders!) – which would most likely be much more secularized world than today (unless churches understand the problem and would be willing to do something about it) and therefore we should not be surprised if our next generation would have less motivation to care for their elderly.

  2. ten ways to raise a secularist | Faith Baptist Church, Witbank Says:

    […] Ten Ways To Raise a Secularist […]

  3. Karyn J - Graceful Girls and Brave Boys Says:

    Thank you, David – I couldn’t agree more. I am encouraged on the lonely road we have chosen for our family.

  4. David Says:

    It can seem lonely. The hope is that in a decade, our children will be genuine worshippers – and that will be a priceless friendship.

  5. Tony Says:

    Thanks, Pastor Dave.

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